Mark Holmberg digs into how a DPU mix-up left a woman on 35th Street with a $15,000 gas & water bill.
It does look a bit suspect. Not paying the bills or suspicious as to why she hasn’t been receiving any bills in the mail.
Then the loss of her records to prove payments.
She may be on the hook but the city should at least make the bill in line with what the house used on an average month prior to the large bill that prompted the initial hold – times 5 years. That would be the fair thing to do especially if the problem has not been fixed causing larger than normal readings? Or have they been taking monthly physical readings but using that unusually high five year old bill to factor on?
Fishy all around. I disagree with folks who are saying that its not possible to run up a bill that high though. I’ve had $400 and $500 months in the winter before. $300 is easy to do even if you are running it sparingly and your house is reasonably well insulated. If someone liked it warm, gave no thought to the cost and had a drafty house, this is possible.
Blaming the city for not turning her heat off seems a little odd. That said, the city needs to document the charges. It wouldn’t surprise me if its all a clerical screw up too as God knows I’ve had my share of fun with the city sending wrongful bills.
Sadly all it would have taken is one person anywhere along the line doing their job for this story to have not turned out so badly. Keep records of your bills and when you think you owe something but don’t see a bill check. City workers running a screen for weird looking accounts periodically and proactively checking with the owner would be a good idea too.
The balance is huge, but it has been accruing interest, penalties, and collections fees for several years it really adds up.
Also note the city doesn’t sell delinquent accounts at a loss. Your unpaid balance grows exponentially because of the the interest is calculated and the high collection fees
“someone needs to help me.”
Oh please. You were taking out a loan to buy unnecessary gifts. Get over yourself.
@3 – good point.
I do think the right thing for DPU to do would be to drop the stuff they imposed on top if this is the case. If she used 15 Gs of water, she owes it. If she used five and a whole bunch of collections, interest and penalties that’s probably something the city should come down on.
I agree with Alex – it would be easy to run up a big bill. One of our neighbors told me their bill is in the $800 range during the winter!
That is when you apply for the Budget Plan as we are on. One amount for every bill year round which balances itself out. We have 10-foot ceilings, a 20-foot staircase opening, and a 200-year old drafty house. We know the costs pile up but then again, she should have been on top of things especially when she stopped receiving bills.
A great opportunity for Dominion to step in and do an energy audit for this homeowner, helping demonstrate the savings of making small improvements around the house to save on heat/cooling costs.
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